Work has now started in Bowen Park to upgrade a sewer line and multi-use trail.
Chris Lang, project engineer, gave an update on the Bowen Park trailway and utility upgrade at a meeting of the city’s advisory committee on accessibility and inclusiveness April 28.
Work to upgrade a one-kilometre-long section of the Millstone trunk sanitary sewer that runs through the park got underway this past weekend. The sewer line, which runs under the trail from the east side of Bowen Park sports field to the rose garden at the park entrance near Bowen Park activity centre, will be increased in size to 900 millimetres in diameter from 600mm and once the new line is laid in place trail upgrades will get underway.
Lang said in his presentation that the trail will be widened to four metres from three metres, except where trees along the trail are to be preserved. The grade on the trail’s steepest sections will be levelled for improved safety and easier access for wheelchair users.
Lang said the existing trail’s asphalt surface is in good condition, but with the amount of disruption that will be caused by the utility upgrade, it’s a good time to take advantage of that to improve the trail.
“At the north end of the park, the trail’s going to be extended down the Millstream Parkway to connect along the west sports field to an existing multi-use path, which will be easily connected into Buttertubs Drive,” Lang said.
There will also be a section of trail leading to the bridge crossing the Millstream River to Riverside Drive at the foot of Lenhart Avenue. The bridge will also likely be widened at a later date to improve accessibility.
Trail lighting will also be added to improve safety, and the warm colour-temperature LEDs will be shielded to prevent light pollution from spilling into the surrounding forest.
“It would really also optimize that trailway and give the opportunity [for it] to be used as a bit of a commuting link after hours, so it wouldn’t be limited to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Lang said. “We’re really looking at improving the utilization and safety through the addition of trail lighting.”
The sections of the trail that will be realigned to smooth the grade are located near the park’s Wakesiah Avenue entrance and the entrance across from Howard Avenue. A retaining wall will also be added to to improve seismic performance for the trail and the sewer line to prevent a breakage that could contaminate the Millstone River.
“Our new trail is going to relieve that grade substantially and, for the most part, make things as flat as possible, again, just to make that comfortable and accessible for all ages and abilities,” Lang said.
Lang said comments solicited from residents in the neighbourhoods around the park were positive about the trail upgrades, with some people expressing concern about preservation of trees and about barred owls that inhabit the park forest.
The work on the trail is expected to be completed in November and there will be some disruption for trail users and disc golf course users throughout the summer, but Lang described it as “short-term pain for long-term gain.”
For more information, visit the project website at www.nanaimo.ca/goto/BowenTrailUtility.